Why the second Sunday in May is so special

Gospels carry messages each day that are relevant to us at any time, but this Sunday’s reading is especially appropriate to our celebration of motherhood.

As with much that occurs in our lives, parenting can bring its share of joys but it also can prove demanding on those who devote much of their love, dedication and energies to raising children.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

To be fair, those youngsters also can find relations with their seniors testing at times, but this weekend delivers a day when those problems should be put aside.

Mother’s Day affords one of several opportunities each year for some outward displays of gratitude towards the parenting skills of those who provided our nurturing at a time when such care was so desperately needed.

Because we are individuals, celebrating that love can sometimes vary both in terms of what flows from various parents to their children and in the way it’s returned by those developing younger people.

A recent magazine story told of a woman who was prepared to advertise to readers that she put her love for one child above her feelings for another in the family.

Last year, a newspaper article profiling an Australian actor-comedian who had herself only then become a mother quoted her as saying: “My mum had my brother and I had my dad … I discovered my mother when my dad died. She was the stranger who was living in our house”.

Those stories go some way to demonstrating how this weekend which is dominated by a most welcome salute to mothers can provoke mixed emotions.

For me it also revives memories of the connection between traffic jams and Mother’s Day.

If you’ve ever tried traversing parts of our largest cities at this time dedicated to celebrating motherhood, you may agree with this observation.

Roads become very congested in the hours leading up to lunchtime and even more so later in the day as many people head home from spending time honouring their mums.

Many years ago, I almost missed a work engagement because of being held up trying to navigate choked traffic arteries after visiting the family home before moving from one side of the city to another after attending a football match – only just managing to avoid the embarrassment of failing to meet a Sunday evening live broadcasting commitment.

But probably the worst bank-up of cars in which I have been mostly stalled at any time occurred on a sadly memorable Mother’s Day following the death of that most important person in my life.

It occurred on the only time that I have visited a cemetery on such an occasion, but the urge to go was very strong given that she had died only months earlier after missing the birth of her grandson by five weeks.

He came along for the ride that day although, reflecting his then tender age, he slept for most of the journey, possibly in response to the continuing quiet hum of the car’s engine while the vehicle was barely moving.

Other visits to the gravesite have been made on occasions away from the congestion that accompanies Mother’s Day.

Of course, those visits are rare and contrast markedly with the daily phone calls and frequent home visits made when my mother was alive.

This Sunday’s gospel promotes the virtue of love, with St John quoting Jesus several times about the need to love one another: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep the commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love”. (John 15: 9-10)

Earlier readings on this sixth Sunday of Easter from the Acts of the Apostles show Peter coming to the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, with God showing that he made no distinction between people: “God does not have favourites”. (Acts 10-34)

That’s the way it should be for mothers, despite the human failings of favouritism that can be part of our lives.

Likewise, love should be returned equally to parents who have nurtured us, although mothers may be shown a little more of that quality on this second Sunday of May.

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